This past weekend, a tornado touched down in our city. It tore through a couple of neighborhoods, including one where my in-laws, other relatives and family friends live. Trees were uprooted and placed atop houses. Sheds and other items relocated a few houses down. Roofs were tore open. People had to vacate their homes. The financial and emotional damage is hard to comprehend. But everyone survived without injury, which was amazing considering their neighborhood looked like a war zone.
I bring this up because "things" were damaged. But "people" were not. And that was plenty cause to be thankful.
Sometimes I wish it didn't take a destructing funnel ripping through our lives to make us realize how important people are. Sometimes I wish we could pause that very feeling of gratitude and love and replay it in any instance.
Sometimes, I wish that just having each other was enough.
At times, it feels like a tornado has ripped through my own life.
It's been a tough year. And it's been a tough week and a half since my hip replacement. The pain is bearable, but it's all the "other stuff" that has gotten the best of me. I've had some horrible side effects to my pain pills, supplements and blood thinners.
I feel better this week. My main issue now is that my energy level is low. I get tired easily, which I am sure is a result of my blood levels getting so low after surgery. And I've found myself digging deep again just to stay positive.
It's been difficult starting over again. Since February 1, I've pretty much had a surgery about every six weeks. For each surgery, the initial recovery time has been six weeks. So as soon as I've started to feel better and get back on track, I've had to start all over again. It's been an unfriendly cycle of re-building back to who I was just less than a year ago.
I still have more than four weeks of recovery (possibly six, depending on how my cracked bone heals). I can't walk without a walker or lift my children during that time. I have to limit my time on my feet. Again, I'm only a small percentage of myself and I am doing my best with what little bit I can do.
In the past few months, I haven't always been a perfect patient. I started walking before I should have. I did things around the house when I shouldn't have. I didn't give myself enough time to heal, because there was so much to do. But this time, I intend to give myself time to heal. Where I go, my walker will go with me -- no matter how embarrassing or inconvenient it is.
Another surgery could be my breaking point. And I worry it could break those who surround me, too. We are all exhausted. We are all a little tired of re-building.
Many times, my saving graces have been my children. Sometimes my daughter hugs me for no reason at all and tells she loves me in the most sincere way. My youngest son presses his face against mine and gives me the cutest half-smile as he cuts his eyes away. He is seriously going to melt some hearts. My oldest son has always been extremely loving. I have to admit, as he gets older, sometimes I jump to ask, "What do you want?" without even realizing that he is just as proud of me as I am of him. I can see it in his eyes and feel it when he hugs me or grabs for my hand in public.
But life is so full of distractions. And with everything I'm going through, I'm certainly not the happiest version of me. Still, their love never fails.
It's amazing how quickly my own mind can decline from "Praise God! I'm alive!" to "Oh, Whoa is me."
Just like the tornado-effect eventually wears off, so does the surgery effect. In the hospital, we are all just so happy that everything went OK. That I was OK. But with each passing day, life sneaks back in with frustrations hiding around every corner. We quickly lose sight of how thankful we are to just be alive and to be with each other.
Anyone who has ever lost someone they love knows that there is no sort of replacement. Every person means something different, fulfills a different place in our heart. When someone is gone, that place never refills. Eventually, we just to learn cope with their absence as best as we can.
Re-building is necessary along the way. And it can certainly be frustrating and sometimes, downright painful. The word "unfair" often fits the bill. But as long as we are able to re-build, we should.
Early on in my diagnosis, before my first surgery, a friend sent me this quote: "Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try it again tomorrow.' "
I will try it again tomorrow and each day after ... because I still can.
I'm not exactly sure where we mentally decide to take a sharp left turn from what really matters into the negativity that pollutes our mind. It's somewhere between that moment in the aftermath of something that brings a true perspective and the hustle of everyday life. It's a glass half empty of nothing but a struggle with ourselves -- a struggle that wouldn't even exist if we didn't allow it to.
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." -- Philippians 4:8